STERLING – For the third consecutive year, a freshman won the Twin City girls cross country race. For the first time in 4 years, the Sterling Golden Warriors walked away with the team title.
Sterling freshman Maggie McPherson covered the 3-mile Hoover Park course in 19:05.70 on Tuesday afternoon, leading the Warriors to a 26-30 victory over the rival Rock Falls Rockets. The Newman Comets also ran, with all three girls placing in the top 11.
McPherson, who follows Rock Falls’ Makaley Velazquez (2012) and Sterling’s Mercedes Sanchez (2011) as winners in their first Twin City meet, credited her love for the course and the cool, cloudy weather as giving her a boost.
“This is such a fun course, and this is my favorite kind of weather, not too hot and not too cold,” McPherson said. “I love starting fast and getting out in front, and I did that today, and those Rock Falls girls really pushed me through.”
Velazquez and senior Katie Anderson were the Rockets pushing McPherson, as they went 2-3 in 19:5.10 and 19:55.80. Both were a little disappointed to come away with neither the individual or team victory, as they were hoping for an early present for their shared birthday today; Velazquez is 16, while Anderson turns 18.
“Since I got first last year, I wanted to do it this year, too,” Velazquez said. “But Maggie ran a great race, and did what I did last year by winning her first Twin City race, and I’m happy with the race I ran … I just wish I had a better time than last year.”
“I’m not as happy with what I did out there and I wanted to be,” Anderson said. “I had a good start, but I kind of died in the middle. But the Sterling girls were so nice, and I’m glad that I pushed myself to get closer to Makaley and stay in third place at the end of the race.”
Sanchez was fourth in 19:56.10, with freshman teammate Megan Barnhart (20:12.10) rounding out the top five.
Like Velazquez, Sanchez was hoping to add a second individual title. But she was pleased to claim the team trophy for the first time since 2009.
“It’s awesome, especially because we’ve never won as a team since I’ve been in high school,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t really worry about a time or passing people, I just went out and ran as hard and fast as I could. I knew if I did that, and my teammates did that, the rest of that stuff would take care of itself.”
Rock Falls junior Bailie Smith took sixth (20:37.90), while Newman junior Haley Simpson was seventh (20:44.80). Simpson’s freshmen teammates, Teagan McKenna (22:09.40) and Kelsey Simpson (22:30.70) were ninth and 11th.
“I improved my time from last year, but I’m still not where I want to be,” Haley Simpson said. “I was hoping to finish in the top 5, and I think maybe I could’ve pushed a little harder, but for some reason I always run better in the morning … and that’s when the big meets will be later in the season.”
Twin City champs
2012: Rock Falls
2011: Rock Falls
2010: Rock Falls
2008: Rock Falls
2007: Rock Falls